Bermuda's stunning beaches, tropical island offerings, and luxe resorts are often what keep people coming back time and time again. For those who frequent this island often, they may have noticed these unique archways referred to as 'moongates.' These spherical gateways are often left at openings to gardens, nature trails, or even old buildings, in some cases. But why are they there, and what is their significance to Bermuda?
While they're Instagram-worthy from the start, there's actually a long and detailed history behind the construction of these unique arches. They were built for a purpose and it's not one that's entirely rooted in Bermuda culture; although it has become one of the novelties of visiting.
The History Of Bermuda's Moon Gates
The history behind moongates is one that dates all the way back to the mid-19th century. During the 1860s, it was said that a local Bermuda sea captain was inspired by a trip he took to China. On this journey, he took a stroll through a beautiful Chinese garden, which happened to have one of these gates. Upon his return, he made plans to include one of these moongates in the architecture of Bermuda's very first - and thus, it was done. As time went on, the unique ornamental feature became absorbed into the architectural style of the island, which is why visitors can now find them in multiple locations.
- Fun Fact: There are at least 40 moongates throughout Bermuda to this day.
While the tradition of the Chinese moongate had made its way to Bermuda, the style wasn't entirely recognized by its origin until the 1920s, according to Go To Bermuda. In China, these gates dated back further - centuries, even - and this was finally acknowledged during the 20th century.
The Meaning Behind The Moongate
Originally, the moongate was viewed as a good luck charm, specifically bringing that of good fortune and love to whoever walks through it. In Bermuda, it's often misunderstood that these moongates have a meaning that relates to the eerie nature of the Bermuda Triangle. However, while it's fun to think about, it's not the original meaning behind the construction of these gateways. The eastern origins of the moongate differ from what many people interpret them as, and some even related them to the similar Stargate.
For newlyweds who might be honeymooning or getting married in Bermuda, the moongate has a very specific meaning. Since it is a sign of good fortune, love, and prosperity, it's believed that newlyweds who walk through the moongate will experience all of the aforementioned. Whether or not it's true obviously remains to be seen, but it has become a fun tradition on the island. It's not uncommon to see couples posing for photos under Bermuda's moongates, and it certainly can't hurt any, either!
Where Can You Find Moongates In Bermuda?
With 40 existing throughout Bermuda at the time of writing, there's a pretty good chance that visitors might run into one completely unintentionally. However, for those who would rather seek them out than make a game of it, there are plenty of public places to spot on of these archways.
- Fun Fact: It's said that those passing through a moongate should make a wish. Originally, the appearance of the gates was meant to be a symbol of welcoming neighbors, since it is always an open 'door.'
Many of the moongates throughout Bermuda are detached, which means that they exist separate from a building or entity entirely. These freestanding archways are popular in gardens and at hotels, such as the Hamilton Princess Hotel. Additionally, other locations around the island include:
- Grape Bay Beach
- Queen Elizabeth Park
- Bermuda Botanical Gardens
- The Reefs Hotel
- Cambridge Beaches
- Grotto Bay Beach Resort
These moongates are not only a historic symbol of Chinese culture but are also quite impressive in their architecture, as well. It takes a different level of skill in order to create a structure that's not only curved, but circular in nature, and these gateways are a beautiful example of artisan craftsmanship. While the first moongate was built from limestone - as was common for many structures on Bermuda during the 19th century - they vary in their construction materials today. Many moongates may also sport defining features, such as various textures, patterns, or adornments in their cosmetic appearance. For some, flowers or plants might be planted on either side, with vine-like flora winding its way around the archway for a more aesthetic effect.
No matter which moongates one seeks out in Bermuda, it's a fun tradition that visitors and locals alike have grown to love.